A new system facilitating oral arguments for civil trials via web conferencing without physical court appearances was implemented for the first time on Friday. The inaugural proceedings using this platform took place at the Osaka High Court, where lawyers joined remotely through a digital interface.

The system was introduced following a 2022 amendment to the Code of Civil Procedure aimed at enhancing the efficiency and accessibility of court proceedings.

While web conferencing has previously been sanctioned for the preparation of arguments and negotiation of settlements, there are plans underway to expand its utility to encompass witness examinations and the remote pronouncement of verdicts in the future.

During the initial implementation, the Osaka High Court presided over the first hearing of an appeal filed by the family of an individual who died while hospitalized, seeking damages from the medical institution.

The presiding judge and two accompanying officials convened at the judicial bench. As people in the public gallery looked on, lawyers for the appellant and respondent deliberated over evidence and confirmed the judgment date remotely via a large monitor installed within the courtroom.

Following the conclusion of proceedings, the lawyer representing the appellant said, "This system is remarkably convenient for court proceedings.

“However, there are instances, such as witness testimonies, where being physically present may be preferable so they can hear the case in person. In such scenarios, we may need to adapt our utilization of the system accordingly."